5: Meet Shawn-Identical Twin Mom with Preeclampsia, Induction, C-section, & A NICU After Esophogeal Fistula

Heidi Campbell


This week, we heard from Shawn regarding her surprise identical twin pregnancy. As soon as she learned she was pregnant, she was off to Costa Rica for a trip with Queens' University. She was uninsured in America and used their free healthcare system for her first vaginal ultrasound. Wow. There they were Baby A and Baby B! As the months went on, she was healthy and hired a Doula. She planned for a natural birth until twin to twin transfusion was suspected based on extra fluid on Baby B. She also became preclamptic. At a routine visit around 37 weeks, she was sent straight to the hospital for her induction. However, the induction failed to progress into labor and a C-section was indicated. Moments after delivery Baby B was not doing well. That is when their NICU journey began for an tracheoesophageal fistula. Grab some tissues. We have so much to learn about letting go and trusting the medical community with a twin birth. Shawn’s favorite baby product for twins is the Graco DuetSoothe Swing & Rocker found HERE.






 5 Meet Shawn-Identical Twin Mom with Preeclampsia, Induction, C-section, & A NICU After Esophogeal Fistula-Host MyDoulaHeidi - Birth Story Podcast -

[00:00:00] What does a contraction feel like how do I know if I'm in labor? And what does the day of Labor look like? Wait, is this normal? Hey, I'm Heidi Campbell a certified birth Doula host of this podcast birth story and owner of my Doula Heidi. I've supported hundreds of women through their labor and deliveries and I.

[00:00:29] Give that every one of them and you deserves a microphone and a stage. So here we are listen each week to get answers to these tough questions and more first story where we talk about pregnancy labor deliveries where we tell our stories share our feelings and of course chat about our favorite baby products and motherhood and because I'm passionate about birth outcomes.

[00:00:55] You will hear from some of the top experts in labor and delivery whether you. [00:01:00] Pregnant trying desperately to get pregnant. I hope you will stick around and be part of this tribe episode 5 Wu so today could not be like more exciting for me because I get to share with you the Journey of one of my very best friends Shawn and her.

[00:01:20] Identical twin pregnancy and birth and I was also her Doula. So this is such a cool story and I hope that you learn so much especially if you are carrying multiples today. Hey

[00:01:37] everybody. I'm in the podcast studio with Sean today. She is going to be the very first interview of 2019 to talk about a multiples birth. So again, I'm Heidi Campbell with the birth story podcast. Welcome Shawn. Hi. Yeah. Thanks for having me. So okay. Let's go back to tell me a little bit [00:02:00] about like how old are your twins?

[00:02:03] And. Little bit about like who you are and like why we want to listen to the story sure. So I am a college professor here in Charlotte. I teach at Queen's University of Charlotte. My twins are now six. They just celebrated their sixth birthday this past December and they are my only weakness when you have twins out the gate half of I feel like half of the parents of twins stop once they once they have the twins first and so it's been a wild ride they are.

[00:02:33] Tentacle twin boys and every bit of boy DNA is in those kids. They are wild energetic don't ever stop. So I am a tired twin mom, but I am a very Happy Blessed twin mom, too. Yeah, awesome. Okay, and then your husband I'm just going to interject as yeah. So yeah, and what is Vo do for a living Bo [00:03:00] works in the restaurant industry with Nobles food group.

[00:03:02] He is basically.  I can't remember his Co oh, what did I see Chief Operating Officer operating like I know what he does. He doesn't. We don't like mentioning it that much but he's been in the restaurant industry for our entire life bow, and I dated for eight years and we have been married. We're celebrating our 10th year no 11th year this coming April.

[00:03:31] So we've known each other for a really really long time and you're pretty young. So most of your life. You guys have done? Yeah, so for our 21st birthdays, so let's go back to like early marriage. So you said that you've been married for almost 11 years, but the boys are only six. Yeah. So did you have like a long journey to get pregnant or what did that look like for you guys?

[00:03:51] We did not have a long journey to get pregnant. We went when I first was married to go. I [00:04:00] had started teaching in the public school system and. I was part of a group called lateral entry. So I never had like really secure footing in that necessarily and P Corman was the superintendent at the time.

[00:04:20] There was a huge riff of layoffs and I was part of that. So right when we were talking about maybe starting a family was when financially things kind of caved out from underneath us. So we waited. To have children to start our family but it actually was a really nice incubation period even though we dated for a long time it we were married for about five years and not let us sort of settle into the patterns of marriage and figure out how communication in marriage is like wildly different and I think it helped us grow up a little bit.

[00:04:54] So that having twins it wasn't like this huge shell-shocked. I can't imagine having them [00:05:00] younger. When I was trying to start my career, I think I'm grateful that my career was a little settled. In some ways when I had and we were not trying we were practicing and it was one of the gold is okay. So tell me the difference between trying and practicing for a very well you have defined this year.

[00:05:21] Alright, so we would not you know, I guess people would say we were trying because we weren't using any sort of birth control method other than the calendar method and I I think ultimately bow. Of was like, you know what let's do this who cares let's try and so the pull out method we were using the calendar and the pullout method and bow flip the script on me one night and did not you know pull out.

[00:05:48] So I made a joke. I was like, you know in a few weeks this could become something and he laughed and he was like, well, we're all you know, it's about time he made this sort of joke, and I remember very [00:06:00] vividly I was at the time I had just been laid off from. Working at the high school and I was part-time everything.

[00:06:10] So I was adjunct in at Queens. Pet sitting I was all of these things and I was getting ready to take a group of students to Costa Rica for over a month and I wasn't I didn't feel great but I wasn't sick and I because I'm a dual citizen. I was born in Costa Rica. I knew that I could go and get checked out in Costa Rica.

[00:06:29] So I wanted to rule out a few things in case what I was having with something chronic. I was concerned. I was really bizarre didn't have health insurance right at the time. I did not have health insurance. That's right. So I was feeling really lethargic. It was like mandatory naps in the afternoon, which is not me.

[00:06:44] I'm a very energetic type of go person. I'd been dog-sitting and I just didn't have any energy. So I was like, well, I'll take a pregnancy test to rule it out. I'm also not a good tracker of my period like I'm the worst at that so I was like, well, I think I'm supposed to be on my [00:07:00] period but I don't know it's all right, you know, I was like, I'll just roll this out.

[00:07:03] I'm leaving in Costa Rican two days. And so I you know, I did the thing I peed on the stick I at this guy's house that I was dog sitting for. I remember asking the second line come up faintly it calling my sister knows like you can't really see it. She's like you're saying that you see a second line I go.

[00:07:20] Well, not really. She's like if you were saying that there's any sort of second line you're pregnant and she went into full freakout moment. So I hang up with her and then I called our good friend Tara. I don't like Tara I'ma send you a picture of this pretty sure I don't see a second line and Tara who's more straightforward and calm and never gets excited.

[00:07:38] She's like you're pregnant. David and I was like, oh, okay. It's so no insurance and like I remember calling you you do Le ideas like Haiti I'm pregnant and I'm going to be gone for a month and can you I don't know what I need to be doing. Can you do that? Because I'm getting on a plane with students in two days and I was like, hey babe, we're pregnant.

[00:07:59] I'll see you in a [00:08:00] month and I literally got on the plane and I was sick as a dog for that first trimester. It was really hard. To keep that secret from the students. I literally was throwing up every meal and I lost 10 pounds in the first trimester and I was wow. Yeah it was. Is that that is a lot so for all of our listeners out there.

[00:08:24] I also called our friend Tara and had that similar conversation of like I think that there's a second line when I was pregnant with my first and so for anyone listening out there if there if you see a second line you are pregnant. It doesn't matter. How faded is that? I think part of it is any second, right?

[00:08:42] Yeah, I think part of it is like you don't believe it. Right? So it's this notion of like I'm not seeing what I'm seeing clearly, right? Yeah and. I took so that we're going to see how many tests did you take 2 Q did the first one I did in the afternoon and my sister who was insistent was like take another one in the morning.

[00:08:57] Please tell me about a to Becca's like yeah, [00:09:00] I mean sure so I took one of the morning and within. I want to say like a minute and a half that second line showed up and it was bright pink and I don't like we are pregnant it clearly is that the time I didn't know it but it was those twin hormones running through me.

[00:09:16] So it was like, oh, yeah, you're like doubly pregnant. Yeah. So let's talk about your in Costa Rica your with the students your SEC. You've lost ten pounds. Yeah, but because you're from Costa Rica, yes, I know a little bit of the story, you know, a lot of the story go. I want you to share with everybody that's listening like what it looks like to take your Costa Rican Family to the doctor.

[00:09:42] So so I get because I'm a Costa Rican citizen and because Costa Rica has amazing Healthcare I can. It was free healthcare for me, but the privatized Health Care is really cheap there too. So I went and I had my blood work drawn and my aunt and my cousin [00:10:00] booked an appointment with a gynecologist and we went and so in Costa Rica.

[00:10:06] It's not like an America where you're waiting in a waiting room and then you go into this exam room. And then the doctor comes in this is like I never saw a nurse. I went straight into the doctor's office and it's like set up like a regular office. He's got his desk he's got. Peter he took a few minutes to get to know me and then he said alright.

[00:10:24] Well, we'll go on the other side of this partition. And so you just imagine like a half wall and there was an exam table right there and so my aunt and my cousin were on the other side of the partition, but clearly you can hear everything, right? And bless this man, he spoke in English. I think to afford me a little bit of privacy because you knew that those weren't my immediate.

[00:10:45] My dad was not going to show up to this thing because clearly modest man that he is that was too close to you know, my naked vagina or something and then my mom is agoraphobic. So this was not necessarily an ideal situation. My husband [00:11:00] bow is, you know Stateside and I'm getting this check up to kind of confirm the pregnancy and I'm like, I think I'm five weeks pregnant, you know.

[00:11:08] Are so I'm on the table. He's doing the vaginal. What's it called? Ultrasound ultrasound? Yes, and he's like, yep. He this baby is measuring beautifully at 5 weeks. You're correct. Look, can you showing me this gorgeous little healthy peanut of a baby on the ultrasound and everything is sort of he's speaking in Spanish and English Vinglish all the stuff and then he pauses because UPS.

[00:11:35] Apps and the beautiful thing about this is he recorded the ultrasound so that I could show both later so that we could share that moment together and he. He's like it's twins. It was like let's say what did he so he takes the wand right inside of me. I don't know what he did. He moved it and he's like see that I go.

[00:11:53] Yeah, he goes That's baby a I was like, okay and then he moves the wanna go see that. I was like aha. He's that's baby V [00:12:00] and I was like, I don't I mean, I believe you I'm not trying to insult you, but I don't believe this he had to keep doing it and so not comfortable also and I was you know, I was right at 10 weeks.

[00:12:12] So this. Is not normally when you have got five weeks, but really you are Ted. No I arrived I was five weeks pregnant. I think I'm I'm it's been a month since I've been in country. I think I'm 10 weeks pregnant. That is correct. So this is not a normal time when you would have this type of exam Meanwhile my aunt.

[00:12:29] And my cousin who are like clutching hands and like you hear them squeal and then they go can we come over there? And I was like sure because at this point everything so laughable and cereal anyway, so they come around to the other side and in Spanish. They're like, we're very Catholic so they're praising God and thinking the heavens and you know Ava Maria and all of this stuff and I'm like laughing / crying because it's just so surreal.

[00:12:55] We weren't trying for this pregnancy. It was not exactly. Best of times to have it [00:13:00] but it felt really serendipitous. Right? Like my first checkup was in a country where I could afford to do it. I don't know what I would have done if I was still Stateside without without any insurance and I mean, I would have figured it out.

[00:13:14] But this was in this ultrasound one of the questions I have is that there's all different types of twins. Yeah denticles. Yeah. So tell me about like the sack for sacks the placentas. They were mono die. Okay, so because of that unique time frame he was able to tell very clearly that they were identical.

[00:13:32] So explain to everyone what mono Diana died two babies they're sharing so they shared one placenta. They were in their own sacks, you know, they had their own amniotic Sachs or when your water breaks so they were in their own little sacks. And so that type of pregnancy identical twins is a 3 and a thousand chance.

[00:13:53] Of having identical twins. It's not hereditary. That's one of the questions I get all the time. Oh do twins run in your family fraternal twins [00:14:00] do but identical twins have nothing to do with jeans. It's just what the eggs the egg splitting and that's like a Russian Roulette that bow played that night and then your twins have red hair.

[00:14:11] So I think I remember you telling us one time that like the chances of having identical twins that had like red hair and green eyes was like one into ice and bloods window and thousand or something crazy eye. Red hair and blue eyes is the rarest hair eye color combination. The world redheads make up less than 2% of the population.

[00:14:30] So on Facebook I had made this joke, like I have redheads or less than 2% of the population. They're identical which is a you know, a 3 and a thousand chance to have them I said, I wonder what the odds are and of course because I teach at a university one of my colleagues was like not to geek out on you but it's actually like a .0 something something chance to actually have identical twins who are redheads.

[00:14:52] Particularly with blue eyes like that. Did you buy lottery tickets to celebrate they were the lottery they though so, [00:15:00] how did you tell your husband that you are having twins? Because he wasn't with you at this appointment. Right? So he actually had come down to Costa Rica at the end of the trip the students flew back.

[00:15:09] He came down for a week and I still had to two days at the end of my trip that I wanted to spend with family again. I'd booked these tickets long before we knew her pregnant. So he comes down. I'm throwing up every day. The pregnancy becomes real to him like he sees how. Like in bad shape I am and I have food aversions and I'm like, you can't eat that around me.

[00:15:29] And you know, that's not who I am. I eat everything and so it became really real to him. But then he flies back. He knows that I have this appointment the next day. So I call them again. We're in the car with my aunt with my cousin who I'm who I love very dearly but not who? Want to have this conversation in the presence of so called?

[00:15:47] Oh, he's waiting. He knows what time it is. He's like, hey, how'd it go? I was like, it's good. Where are you? He's like I'm at work was like, oh like in your office worker like you walk in the floor because he works in a restaurant, right? And he's like, you know, I'm down to the bar. I was like, [00:16:00] okay we can you sit down.

[00:16:01] He's like is everything. Okay with the baby looks like yeah. Yeah, everything is fine. If they're just two of them. It's totally fine. It was dead silent and I remember taking the phone and like looking like did the we lose the international. I'm driving, you know in the city of San Jose and as I bail and he's like yeah.

[00:16:20] Yeah, I'm here. I was like, okay. He's like, I'm excited. He say this is it's a lot to take in. I was like, yeah. Okay so you can pick me up tomorrow. So yeah, and now is it like we I think we were both so spooked that we just didn't talk about it by the time I landed. He had researched in his cute sort of way of loving he had researched everything there was to research about a twin pregnancy and then grilled me.

[00:16:43] He's like we got to figure out how you're going to eat more because you have to have 600 calories more for a twin pregnancy than your regular pregnancies. Like. I don't think you're drinking enough water. I didn't see you drink that much water because Rica you need to be having double the amount of what like it was all facts.

[00:16:58] It's he was the one who [00:17:00] researched the fact that twins are identical twins are not hereditary. So he became this like little roll. Ex of information. He was your week by week guide Department was like, he's like up the baby's gonna be the size of this Baby's right we were so so yeah, I love it.

[00:17:15] Yeah. Okay. So your pregnancy tell me about it was where you relatively healthy. Like, how did everything go was it? So the first trimester I was sick. That's not surprising given twins. I think most twin moms will tell you or report that they had a really sort of nauseous first trimester. There's two of us.

[00:17:34] Did you take. I said I did not nope. No I had food aversions. I doubled down on fruit. And avocado. That's what tasted good to me. So I didn't take medicine. I just kind of worked my way through it by the end of the trimester. I started to feel better. I still have waves and nausea, but I wasn't actively throwing up after that.

[00:17:57] It was sort of a textbook [00:18:00] pregnancy because they were identical twins. It's going to because they were mono die twins. We were monitored a lot. And since they're my only babies. I don't I don't know any other way like my friends would be like, oh I finally get a sonogram like what are you talking about?

[00:18:13] Because every other week I was having sonograms pictures taken of the baby. So it's highly monitor. There's a risk of twin-to-twin transfusion with identical twins that they really want to closely look for. There was a little bit of a scare towards third trimester because I was they tell you to watch out for rapid weight gain because that is a sign of twin-to-twin transfusion and that happened and so one of the ways to avoid that if it's too soon they go ahead and give the baby steroids and they just inject that.

[00:18:47] If it's around 37 36 weeks ago, they try to push to deliver. I this was before that. I think it was right around 33 weeks. So that was a big scare and [00:19:00] there's really no way of finding out and they had offered at that point to drain some of my fluid and I asked like what benefit does that have for the babies is said no none.

[00:19:09] It's just to make you more comfortable and I was sort of a. Very Pro least medical interventions possible. So I turn that down. Which meant I was huge. Like I have pictures of me next to Santa I delivered in December where my belly is like twice the size of dressup seen to I'd walk into a grocery store and people were like, there's triplets in there.

[00:19:31] She's gonna have her baby right here. But so they did the steroids and that was it. They sent me home and then at 37 weeks I went in at that point. I was going in every week for check-ups. My blood pressure was a little high and there were signs of preeclampsia and. Urine sample at that point. My doctor was like, you know what let's go ahead and have these babies.

[00:19:57] Let's what's the word I'm looking for. [00:20:00] Yeah, thank you. So I had not had any breakfast and Hicks. I had not had any false labor. I had no inkling of what a contraction felt like so at that point, I kind of knew that that the birth plan that bow and I envisioned was gonna probably be at the window.

[00:20:18] So I know that what that was because I was your Doula. Yeah, but why don't you tell everybody like what you were planning for your 21st, so. I was really enthralled with the idea of a water birth. I loved the notion of peace and calm that that would bring to both me and Bo Bo is a little gun-shy at hospitals.

[00:20:39] He has fainted before at the sign of a needle. I wanted a space that was going to provide as much peace as possible for everybody involved and I'm also just more along the like granola hippie side if you will and I prefer less medical interventions possible. I'm not I'm a. For in Western medicine, but I think there can be a balance [00:21:00] and so I had wanted a water birth or at least you know.

[00:21:07] Be able to move around be able to squat all those things. I was prepped pretty early that that may not happen 50% half of all twin births end up in C-sections. That's just the reality full term for twins is considered 37 weeks. I'm and so I knew I had to really advocate for myself, but it's a preeclampsia kind of took my bargaining chip off the table because at that point.

[00:21:31] Preeclampsia, the only way to get rid of it for the mom. I'm busy deliveries delivery rates at that point. It was like and for anyone that's listening here to like I think it's really important. I think preeclampsia gets thrown around and people aren't really sure what the definition of that is.

[00:21:47] They know that it's linked to high blood pressure but high blood pressure is just actually One symptom Zoe clamps yet actually means seizures or convulsions, right? So preeclampsia mean. Pre seizures or [00:22:00] convulsions. It's one of the leading killers of women maternal Health in the world. We just and we don't I don't think that people know enough about it.

[00:22:07] So that's why I just wanted to interject one of the symptoms is high blood pressure. One of the symptoms is high uric acid one of the symptoms protein or creatinine in your urine. They look at the ratio of the uric acid to the creatinine. And so they also look at things like blurry vision and headaches.

[00:22:27] There's a multitude of symptoms that could give you the diagnosis of preeclampsia, but I think it's important to not dismiss the seriousness of it because I don't think a lot of people realize that e clamps and means. Seizures and convulsions. Yeah that were trying to not have that happen, you know and the only cure as you mentioned is delivery.

[00:22:48] I had blurry vision the week before and I just it was it came in last is like in my peripheral vision, so I didn't know that that was related. Right so when we [00:23:00] went in for 37 weeks and they said that it was sort of like, okay well. We're going to have to deliver that these guys and I knew at that point that my body wasn't physically ready to have them.

[00:23:09] I had no signs. There was nothing kind of you have lost your mucus plug lost my mucus plug. I was still you know. Pretty mobile for how huge waddling. I will tell listeners that you're still quite High to so the babies haven't like dropped, you know, if you hadn't experienced that, you know big drop because there was also a lot that fluid but yes, I will the fluid I will what we're gonna have a story about the fluid just just here coming up in a minute.

[00:23:42] Now we're going to take a short break to just share a few things with you and we'll be right back with our guest. I'm so excited to tell you about my first book that I wrote that is launching this summer. It's a 42 week guide to your pregnancy. It's a collection [00:24:00] of birth stories. It has a ton of dual advice from all of the questions that my clients have asked me over the last 14 years.

[00:24:07] It has hysterical partner tips that you will want to read to your partner and it has journaling prompts because nobody has time to write a 20-page has in their Journal about their pregnancy. So I've taken the Liberty to give you some prompts of things that I think you might want to remember back on after the baby's born.

[00:24:28] So again, you can go to burst or and pre-order a copy today and it would mean the world to me.  So this was like the afternoon of what day was this December the boys were born on the 12th. So it was too full three full days before that. Okay. So born like 12:18 on the 12th. So okay a few days before and at that point.

[00:24:54] I kind of knew and resigned myself that things would not go as Bo and I had [00:25:00] planned. I think I had had that in the back of my head. Not that this was what was going to happen. I certainly didn't have a self-fulfilling prophecy about it, but I wanted to be open to possibility and I wanted to be open to they'll get here how they get here and it's going to be okay if I'm part of this statistic or if I beat it or whatever it might be right so they started with the pitocin.

[00:25:23] So 8 let's back up. Yeah. Oh, so you're at that appointment. Did they send you home to rest or did you know they sell to the hospital? They said do you have a bag packed? And we said yeah. You know we've had in the car for a few days. So like will go ahead and I was at the OBGYN that was connected to the hospital.

[00:25:40] So they're like yeah just go go on up. And so we went so for everyone listening if you go to the doctor's office and they don't send you home. They send you right to the hospital. There's a little bit more of a sense of urgency than even you understand. Yeah, because there are many inductions where they say come back tomorrow, right and when they say go straight to [00:26:00] the hospital there are some things that are.

[00:26:03] I'm very uncomfortable. I think the markers for preeclampsia or very yeah right very clear and they wanted to alleviate and they wanted to alleviate that and so which I appreciate right? I appreciate the attentiveness to that so we went they started pitocin. I went back through the notes that so Heidi was my Doula which is an amazing thing to have a doula even if you don't have the birth story that you want or if you your goal is to go natural and you don't go natural having a doula in the room is amazing.

[00:26:31] It's an advocate. It's a voice that helps you the multitude of ways that you helped where it was amazing. So we called Heidi we're like hey, and I mean you show up on you want I don't think anything's happening. But you know, they're going to induce cervidil that evening. I was told I was in labor.

[00:26:52] I. Nothing, like nothing at one point. I was like, yeah, I'm starting to get some some pain in my lower back. I'd [00:27:00] rate it like a 2 on a scale of 1 to 10. And I remember people like in the room last week, sir. Like your contractions are two minutes apart. How do you not feel that? And I was like, I don't I don't know.

[00:27:11] I don't there's a whole lot of fluid. Yeah, Lennon really hurt. I don't know and then we'll just back up really quick on cervidil. So cervidil is an induction. Medicine that they use that will soften soften and then the cervix. Yeah so many times with a first time Mom right are cervix has not effaced or thinned and hasn't dilated.

[00:27:35] And before we start like all this pitocin it is really good to start with trying to open and soften the cervix. Now if you had an opportunity to go home, your Doula would have said have tons of sex because there are so many. Tendons and semen that's often the cervix and I had been using that hip that evening primrose the evening primrose oil.

[00:27:58] So I had [00:28:00] I just I think had started it the day before so clearly and again, I was really Pro natural but under understood that that may not be the case is that they use the cervidil and then maybe a couple hours later started the pitocin. Yes started at the lowest level kept increasing it actually went.

[00:28:20] Like to the top that they that the nurses are allowed to go without a doctor coming in and okaying it. I only ever got to 70 percent effaced and I only ever opened up three centimeters. Okay. So clearly my inclination my instinct that my body wasn't ready. I think do you remember how many hours you were induced?

[00:28:44] Like I had to bend over 24 right when you guys went three centimeters. Yep. Yeah was over 24 and I know people were saying your look the monitor you're having a contraction and they were four minutes apart and they were two minutes apart. I was like, yeah. Okay. So do you remember ever really feeling that tightening or that squeezing [00:29:00] like I remember being there with you and.

[00:29:02] And not really ever going into active labor. I don't think I ever had active labor. Yeah, I never had an urgency to do anything with my body, right? I mean, I had a desire to move around. I had a desire to not be and the thing I'll tell you so. You know, there's two babies. There's two monitors.

[00:29:20] There was a mobile monitor unit that we had requested but it wasn't there that day, right? They only have one because like how many twin births or multiple births do you have and so each nurse had a different approach about it. And I the first nurse was great. She let me move and then she would just ask, you know in intervals I think of half an hour and then maybe 20 minutes and then 15 to check the heart rates and they were fine.

[00:29:47] In the evening that nurse. Was so rigid I was on my back sitting in that bed. And I the only time she let me take the monitors off for her to go pee inside fake having to [00:30:00] pee just so that I could get up, you know doing you never got to take a shower or get into the bath shower. I didn't get to chill out in the bath.

[00:30:07] I did I was allowed a shower. So again, right there's there was a this rigidity that I that's not my personality. That's not how I wanted to deliver the boys, but I also. And I remember I think Heidi you helped sort of advocate for that. She just this woman wasn't budging and I think. Twin births are complications to begin with I was considered a high-risk pregnancy from the get-go the fact that they were identical twins increase that the fact that I was carrying around extra liters of fluid that they thought was related to twin-to-twin transfusion than end up being about something else, which I think we'll get to all of those things.

[00:30:47] I think created a picture for them that made almost everybody pretty nervous. Right and I just want to interject you did not hear her incorrectly. She did say eight extra liters of [00:31:00] fluid. So we are going to get to that stuff. I'm like, how do you set it up mate? We said it was for of like those two leaders of lore, you know 0 du Vieux order of go to a picnic.

[00:31:10] Yeah, four of those and then 10 pounds of baby. Yeah. So like add a leader really the induction is. It's I don't like the word fail. But you're you're selling I think it's falling right because at this point. I've I think if we doubled the amount of pitocin and so the doctor comes in and he's like, you know, you're still not really a feast and I had some visitors at that point who came and you were still with us and it was like I'm not willing to concede any more on the on the amount of medicine that you're pumping into my body because I knew I had enough self-awareness body awareness that this wasn't going anywhere.

[00:31:49] So it's like I want the pitocin stopped if we stop the pitocin, whatever. Fo labor we're having right now is going to stop I knew that clearly. So this is so [00:32:00] important for people to hear if your body is not ready for labor. There is no amount of pitocin that they can give you that's going to make you go and do later.

[00:32:12] So your body's ready. Absolutely don't happen things. So it's really good that you had that, you know kind of awareness and that you were willing to like listen to the medical community to yeah. So like I think I asked him I said is the preeclampsia still a concern because now we're on day two and a half and I.

[00:32:31] There's Larry Vision still high blockers house and to get like what I don't want to be pumped full of these drugs is is the preeclampsia still a concern. He's like, yeah I said, okay. So I remember we asked everybody to leave but when I talked about it, I was concerned because though. It really does have a phobia and a fear and anxiety around operations needles all of that stuff.

[00:32:54] And I knew that we were going to be leaving an environment that was sort of homey right that you we had the diffuser [00:33:00] going. We had like our own pillows. It was pseudo comfortable to this very cold clinical environment. And so I said, can you do this? Like do you want to do this? Do we want to have these babies now?

[00:33:12] I just. Don't this isn't going to happen naturally right now. And if the pre claims he's still a concern they're not going to let me go like this is it and so we decided together that we would just elect to have a C-section. I don't know that I would ever settle know that little act it was it was indicated.

[00:33:33] It was indicated and whether me you made control of that decision earlier, but in two hours, I lay down that way. I'm pretty sure they may have come in and said yeah and I kind of wanted it on my own terms. I didn't want to be in an emergency situation where they might have decided to put me out like I needed to I wanted if we were going to go that route.

[00:33:53] I wanted it to be on our terms. Yeah. So we said let's just have these babies and the doctor said I think you're [00:34:00] making the right call, you know, and I. Later, he said my cervix was pretty far back and the babies were behind that and so it would have made complications. I forgot this until I read the notes last night and I think it's probably because I never said it to me when when they pulled eat it.

[00:34:17] They had another medical intervention that we had while we were laboring is that they strip my membranes with Ethan so Ethan was baby a and while that felt great like it really did a little bit of pressure still nothing, right? So so we. And I had the epidural in the operating room Heidi you got to be a part of it which doesn't normally happen.

[00:34:37] So I'd love to hear like your take on it. But anyway, so they so they took you back to the operating me back to the operating room and then place the epidural place that but Daryl do you remember that process? Yeah, that was only pain. I felt all day like through the whole thing. I was like, oh. I feel that it's really try not to move was like I'm so sorry.

[00:34:56] That's painful. I'm and that was it like that. Literally I think [00:35:00] is the only pain I felt leading up to my birth, but your body responded well to the anesthesia like yeah. I felt yeah, I was I felt Nom I but I still had like, you know upper body awareness. I remember feeling nauseous. I don't remember feeling nauseous.

[00:35:16] I. I think there was this relative calm for me people were coming into the room. There were a lot of people so which one burst each baby gets assigned its own team. So small room. There were at least a dozen people I think in that room if I remember correctly. Yeah and Beau and I were. You know trying to stay kind of out of their way, right but your head but yeah, I did have an overwhelming sense of peace and calmness.

[00:35:43] Thank you to you. Yeah, so about you know, they sat and again those early nervous so they sat him right close to me. And so we just were watching each other the whole time and when they pulled Ethan out, this is what I didn't I don't remember and I don't think anybody told me the umbilical cord was wrapped twice around Ethan [00:36:00] snack.

[00:36:01] Yeah, I remember yes because I went where. I was probably I'm not supposed to go but I went to the other side of the curtain because yeah, so for for audience members listening, this was the very first time that I had the opportunity to be in the operating room, right not all doulas get that privilege.

[00:36:23] So I had never seen a C-section and I was really curious. So I just remember being like by Sean like both got you. Yeah, and I was on the other side of that curtain watching. Whole process go down. And so it was really amazing to see the inside of your uterus your orchid. That is how it looks like its own type of birth.

[00:36:46] If that you said they created a canal they actually did they have a ring and I am not sure what this medical Contraption is called, but it's a ring maybe we'll put it in the show notes, but it's a ring that kind of opened up [00:37:00] your skin and uterus is in it looked like. You know because I've seen many vaginal births.

[00:37:05] It really did look like a birth a normal birth opening. It was really miraculous. Right? Right. So yeah, so they Ethan was baby a and 1218 within the fairy tight cord wrap minute Zack was born they broke his water and then. Delivered him in the same minute. So let's talk about that water breaking.

[00:37:32] I don't exactly remember if they broke was it just one sack and okay, then they had to us was they had stripped his membranes in the delivery room, right? So so, okay. So remember we had this concern that there was twin to Twin transfusion. I was carrying a lot of liquid on just one side a lot of fluid on just one side.

[00:37:50] Well, it turns out that they were eight. Leaders. Yeah, it was on Zack and was on Zack baby be and [00:38:00] the reason is he was born with an esophageal fistula. So his throat never connected to a stomach. So in utero, he never had the ability to. Process he couldn't do that. So he was sitting at a rapid rate at a very rapid rate in all that amniotic fluid which is why they thought we the twin to Twin thing was a concern because usually when you gain a lot of weight or there's they think turns out it was that he just didn't have a throat to process it.

[00:38:27] So say the term again what off the geel so referring to the esophagus or the throat fistula and it was a birth defect that happened. They say around three weeks. So it was before I even knew that I was pregnant with them. It's not common, but it's like there's a common fix for it. And so generally the right surgery isn't immediate and it takes six to eight weeks generally for.

[00:38:57] For little little kids to recover from [00:39:00] it. So I want to get to that story in just a minute but like go back. I feel like we left like our listeners like on edge a little bit. So I got the fluid so fluid Sean's laying on the bed, so I'm not really sure you're like aware of I heard everybody go whoa like a collective.

[00:39:17] Whoa in the room and bow looks so bows like at my head and it's the first time he broke my gaze with me and he looks down. He's like, is that all supposed to be there? Like this over there was standing amniotic fluid like standing water standing amniotic fluid. On the operating floor that there's AB not this isn't normal.

[00:39:38] There's that container that they put it overflowed awful and it's supposed you're supposed to fill that up. Right and they actually use that I think for the measurements to measure it so it that it felt that I had overflowed the all the nurses were like what and there was some sort of like nervous laughter in the room.

[00:39:55] I you know, so your strap the mama strapped down you don't really see anything there's that curtain up. [00:40:00] I wasn't nervous because the laughter made it sort of a light-hearted moment. And I knew it was I wasn't surprised wasn't like what's happening. I was like, oh there was a lot of fluid. Yeah. Did you feel like a relief of pressure like as if a balloon and Potter did feel like a balloon popping.

[00:40:16] It was like all of a sudden I felt weightless for just like a millisecond and it was like it was like I had. Peed my pants like I'd never peed my pants before like I don't it was like I'm severally yeah and it literally was it I think it made that sound it was like and and then it hits the tile floor so makes us out there and people are just like beside themselves.

[00:40:37] And so, you know bow myself and Heidi have no idea that this is out of the norm until we hear the nervous like laughter and then I think later right when you are getting dressed out of your scrubs you were with the nurses and they said, Well, I mean that I just remember that they were like we have never literally never seen this amount of amniotic fluid and then they estimate because it overflowed so [00:41:00] much they estimated it at 8 to 10 liters and I was like that can't even be right at me and I just remember like counting the leader bottles and then like thinking of your stomach and thinking.

[00:41:11] Wow. Yeah it just so it was y'all I was huge is what we're trying to say is I was huge. I'd literally had to walk into a store and I was probably around 34 35 weeks and people just glazed over with panic. They thought I was going to have these children and annihilate of Harris Teeter. Woohoo, and I just remember so like Ethan was born like Zach was born like immediately and I think this is really cool with the numbers like so they were born on 12 12 12 12 12 12.

[00:41:39] Those are E12 to. And that'll ever happen there. Yeah, and they're twins. So I just remember 18. Yeah. I just remember thinking like whoa. Yeah, like a spiritual, you know Awakening that's happening. And I remember right away. They put the babies and I'm taking over a little bit. But yeah now you're laying on your [00:42:00] back.

[00:42:00] Don't stop stop, right? I don't see any so they took Bo and they were able to like see Zach and Ethan and they put them in their little bassinets and like under the lights and right away. They. That something wasn't right. Was that right? So they weren't saying very much. I want saying much but like I remember and though and I remember hearing that his sound was very different than Ethan's sound.

[00:42:23] So like those first few like cries and brats and stuff, but then we kind of got. You know whisked away to go back to their room and they were going to take you to recovery for four hours. And so then I want you to take over and then tell us kind of where your journey or your inauguration of motherhood like started.

[00:42:47] So I'll say even though I had you know, this vision of a water birth and all of these things. I think that I was a water birth and well different kind of a lot of breath, right, you know, I had all these visions and those didn't come to [00:43:00] fruition. But I feel that I still had a very Serene and calm birth, even though it was in sort of the confines of a medical operating table.

[00:43:12] And so I don't I don't mourn the loss of what could have been a birth or I don't I don't. It didn't feel like a traumatic experience. Now that might be because of the subsequent stuff that happened with Zack afterwards, right? And I and and no one told me about Ethan until I read it later. So I think that was probably a Saving Grace right?

[00:43:33] Like I never was never worried about Ethan and probably needed to be but I wasn't. So we I recover in the recovery room, which is like the size of a small closet. It was ridiculous. And then I get some skin-to-skin time with both of them after they had had their bath and then we get wheeled to our room and I remember they said we're going to take Zach [00:44:00] up.

[00:44:00] He's still having some trouble getting warmer it take him up to the nursery. I think it's what they said or the NICU to warm them up and just do some run some more tests on him. But it was always it was just presented in sort of a. Standard operating type of situation no need to alarm you no need to alarm you.

[00:44:18] This is my first pregnancy. I don't know what to expect. We had kind of already adopted this open attitude of you know roll with the punches kind of thing and I'm also coming off of some major drugs, right? So like nothing's are not operating clearly for me. Anyway Bo is like at this point really sleep deprived because he's been up the whole time.

[00:44:38] He went with the babies to have their first bath all of the when they. I'm cleaned up. So he is finally sleeping. I think for the first time in over two days. Yeah, and I remember it was like early morning hours three four and a doctor came in and I knew it was new it was Furious and [00:45:00] so she comes in Bose asleep.

[00:45:02] We don't wake him up and she's telling me words and I'm struggling to process them. And so she was kind enough to write it on an index card. Esophageal fistula and she said he's going to need surgery and at this point, I'm just so overwhelmed. I've had two babies and I've only got one of them in my in my hand.

[00:45:21] I'm able to do skin-to-skin with Ethan. I am recovering from major surgery which by the way, I never really even. Registered that that was a serious surgery like it never came the the preeclampsia concerns. I knew or concerns the C-section I know is a major surgery. I don't have any recollection of being in pain after the surgery or like what my own needs were at that point.

[00:45:46] And I think it's because the the twins more primarily Zach, right? So welcome to being a mom. Welcome to being a monster. That was like, hey your mom and your day one your mom [00:46:00] and crisis, right? And so it was do you remember how long it was before you were reconnected was that after like the initial skin-to-skin time?

[00:46:09] Yeah, like when they took them and to diagnose them and then have to have surgery before right before surgery. Oh, it's okay now, we're both. Yeah, let me too. Right before surgery we wheeled. I got wheeled up. He was connected to all of these tubes. I should say. He's in the NICU their tiny preemies like gorgeous little preemies and he was born five pounds 12 ounces.

[00:46:42] So for a twin baby, he's a big big he's a healthy size. So he looks like. Giant Butterball compared to all the other kids, you know, all the other babies that are in the room and he is hooked up to all these tubes but he's not in the incubator like I could he wasn't in a glass [00:47:00] container or I could put my hands in, you know kind of thing, but I was so they were like you can pick them up and I didn't because I was so afraid.

[00:47:11] Best accepting up right? He's got a tube that's breathing for him. He's got a tube that's feeding him or not. I don't even think he was eating yet because he needed surgery right? And so those are my first sort of memories of zakhar are these sort of cat so. Bell really kind of bookie make your point like I it kind of became this division of labor immediately.

[00:47:39] I was taking care of Ethan but was with Zack so I didn't see much a bow. We didn't have a lot of time to process together the birth story. It was just sort of like we immediately without even vocalizing it I clearly because I was stuck to a hospital bed had we just kind of unspoken Lee did this thing where every waking moment?

[00:48:00] [00:48:00] Zach was going to be you know, taking care of my bow, but would rush down and check on me whole Ethan for like 30 minutes to an hour. Make sure I had eaten and run back up. This is why I think I was not paying attention to anything about my c-section. Like I just didn't feel that much pain. I cut.

[00:48:20] Yeah, how could I so he has surgery as a day old they tell us. He was born on the 12th. They tell us like you and the hard part is Ethan could not go into the NICU. So I never I never got the twin experience until after Zach came home because I could never hold them together and I had had these like all right, we got to figure out how to nurse two babies at the same time.

[00:48:44] That was not the case. I was nursing Ethan and Zach was getting his nourishment from. Formula and machines and and I'm sure it was never part of like your vision that you are going to go home with one baby. Only one baby and only [00:49:00] one baby. Yeah and leave behind which is Creek. Right? Like we knew that there was a chance that we'd have them prematurely.

[00:49:06] We knew that there was a chance that they were going to there would be a hospital or NICU stay it never occurred to me that it would be one or like that. What happened to one was not going to happen to the other one? So it just that was blindsided us. So they said, you know, you don't expect him home for Christmas.

[00:49:25] It's usually a six to eight-week recovery. The the surgery went beautifully. Well, we were taking care of beautifully by our friends and our family. I don't think that I spent much time with Zach like in hindsight because I was recovering from a C-section. I remember once Bo came down. He's like, do you want to see him and I said, yes, but Bo look so Haggard I was like, well you just lay down and we just do skin-to-skin and we'll get a nurse to take me so we call for a nurse.

[00:49:56] It literally took 45 minutes. They were so busy for a nurse to wheel [00:50:00] me up there. And so we'd been waiting for 45 minutes just so that someone could take me because I couldn't walk. To see my son and I spend some time with them and every time I spent time with them, I'm like a mess and so I'm holding him.

[00:50:12] This is post-surgery. I'm holding him and on a mess and I'm could he nurse? No, he know he was so after she still had it had it feet you got feeding him and they had to do swallow studies to make sure right because it's his throat that to make sure and so he was. Eating and teeny tiny increments and they were testing to make sure it was the swallow study that I think you needed to pass among other things before he could ever come home.

[00:50:39] So I remember I was like, I'm not waiting another 45 minutes to get back down to Bone Ethan. So I took my wheelchair and I used it like a walker. Yeah. I can't even describe the amount of peanut was in and I think at this point I wasn't taking pain meds. Like I think I have I've torn my ACL before doctors have [00:51:00] said you seem to have a high threshold for praying the contractions are not reading right.

[00:51:04] I just I don't feel I think I have a high threshold for pain. So that was the most excruciating pain I've ever been in using my. Wheelchair as a as a walker to walk down to the hallway get into the elevator go down to the Maternity Ward and come back to the room. I collapsed into bed bawling and I think at that point it was like a cathartic release for everything that was happening.

[00:51:32] We go home, but we only go home with one baby both taking shifts visiting and then we go up but he's holding Ethan in the family waiting room of the NICU and then I go in it. So we never like Bo and I never got a chance to be with with Zach Just the Two of Us on except for right before surgery. We were there together with a whole host of medical team.

[00:51:54] So it wasn't like this private moment. But then the greatest most beautiful Christmas [00:52:00] miracle happened Zach is like the strongest fighter we know and he they called us and they said you can come pick him up and it was Christmas Eve. So it only was two weeks. The 12 to the 24th. They were like we this is the fastest recovery we've ever seen I think your Costa Rican relatives were sending some major character Catholic there's Vibes.

[00:52:21] Yeah for sure. I mean everybody was on you know, I had my good friend Diane who's a chaplain come and she had baptized him because it we just weren't sure what was gonna happen and but we got them home on Christmas Eve. And I I remember we were like giddy school kids and we prop them up in their little.

[00:52:40] Bassinet in the living room and Beau and I slept intermittently right on the floor Christmas Eve. Was that the first time you nurse sack it was the first nope. That's not true. I in recovery when they moved him to the like the healthy NICU side. They were moved to the [00:53:00] tube. Yeah. He was not it was like I was bottle feeding him because I couldn't nurse him.

[00:53:07] I pumped and then would feed him that because they needed to measure how much he was getting in. They needed to see if he was swallowing when so babies who are born at 37 weeks don't know how to nurse anyway, so that was a whole other like podcast issue of like, how do you maybe we'll have you back on the past breastfeeding breastfeeding twins?

[00:53:27] I think that that would be like a really good topic. I finally nailed it, but it was. It was I mean Ethan to wasn't I was seeing a lactation consultant it with this is crazy like take Ethan to the lactation consultant take Ethan by himself to his first pediatrician appointment go see Zach have our meetings with the medical team.

[00:53:45] They're like Zach finally comes. I'm having meetings with the lactation consultant about Zach at the at the hospital like finally like come home. I think that's why when when they were everybody was home and people are like do you need help? I was like no I got this because it was the first time I had an [00:54:00] opportunity to just mother my two.

[00:54:02] Children at home. You wanted that Sacred Space? Yeah, and I think it also it made the twin thing easier. Like I think I extended myself a lot of Grace because I kept saying why I only have two hands. I only have two boobs. I only have like I saw some my friends with single parents beat themselves up for this ideal notion of what motherhood looks like and miss that.

[00:54:28] Failed me miss that Mark which is mythology anyway, and I think they they were hard on themselves. And I think I was like, well, I got twins in this one, you know was in the NICU struggling for life, you know, so I did a load of laundry and I watched the hair on my kids grow. I rocked it out today.

[00:54:48] Yeah, so I was gonna say like here at the end of the podcast. I like to ask like what is your advice for moms of multiple? Yeah. And moms whose [00:55:00] babies go to the NICU like if you can pass along some Sage advice, like what would you say to those that are coming after you?  So I think in the birth planning process be opened up to whatever story it might be and I think that you can control the emotions.

[00:55:19] So like I said, I. I would have never wanted a C-section delivery birth for myself. It is totally a hundred percent. Okay, it was a Serene I think as Serene birth as anybody could have in an operating room and that in that environment. I don't have any regrets about that. So I think there's sort of a posture of just being open.

[00:55:45] If you have a child that's in the NICU I think that you have to invest in self-care after that baby comes home because I don't I don't I don't think it matters what it is that lands that child there. I think it's a traumatic experience. And I think that there is a [00:56:00] lot of processing and unpacking that has to happen afterwards and it happens slowly and over time, so don't.

[00:56:10] Don't set unhealthy expectations for yourself about what it's supposed to look like. Thank you for that because I think it's really important that we remind moms and give mom's permission for self-care in to not feel guilty about that a hundred percent. I mean. I still every Christmas Eve get really choked up at the story exact still like if he's if it looks like he's like got a chip in his throat.

[00:56:38] That's like scratching him, you know at me like it's not really a risk. I like I hold my breath like a sticker. It's a trigger right and they will never not be a trigger and there's just an existence. I think that that mothers have with with children who've gone through traumatic experiences and its relative.

[00:56:53] So like I have friends whose kids have been born. And who have needed heart surgery right away, right? I've [00:57:00] had two good friends whose kids have had heart transplants already. It is relative like the trauma exist. Even if your child was in the NICU for a week, like it doesn't matter. It does hate their care of even if you have a completely healthy baby.

[00:57:13] Yeah, they take care of yourself. And that looks to recognize what that might look like for you. Yeah in the early stages is that sleeping when they sleep and giving yourself permission to do that and not the dishes or. Laundry or you know, I think it might be different if you've. Other siblings in the home, but you it's still vitally important that you carve that out say yes to the help when offered and be directive like say I know you want to hold this baby right now, but would really help me is if you could just start a load of laundry, and if you can start to load of laundry, and then I promise you can hold the baby or come and let me just take a.

[00:57:50] Hold my kids. I just can take a bath and I will say Shawn practices what she preaches because when I had my baby she came over and did my dishes. I don't think you even know what know you [00:58:00] nursed him. I'm sorry, that's another broadcast for another day. But yes, but you came over and did my dishes and I was quite thankful for that.

[00:58:07] So as we close out favorite baby product or products like when you look back six years ago, was there something that you were like, oh, this was my go-to. I mean, Those damn swings the little baby swings. Yeah that my children slept in that a lot. Yep, two of them side-by-side to them side-by-side.

[00:58:28] Yeah, we could do a whole podcast on like what year what you need and what you don't need you don't have to buy two of everything. That's just going to junk up your house. Do you remember what the brand of this Wing was? I think it's like the great girl little lamb it is what it was. No one right answer you place the baby.

[00:58:46] It's very cute a little mobile like a lovable. Yeah, so and for us we swaddle but swaddled with arms out and the swaddles were were pretty. Vital [00:59:00] well, thank you so much. Shawn is awesome. Like, you know, you're my bestie and I was part of the story. So I feel like a cheater asking you all these questions, but it was really beautiful to relive it with you.

[00:59:11] Thanks. Thanks for coming on and we're going to we're going to do part two with Sean on nursing multiple. Sure. You should see your face right now. That's amazing. Oh God, I mean. Nursing them until to you want to talk about that talk about all of it. Alright. We hope everybody has an awesome day or night whenever you're listening.

[00:59:36] Thank you for listening to birth story. My goal is you will walk away from each episode with a clearer picture of how labor and delivery might go and that you will feel empowered by the end of your pregnancy to speak up plan. Prepare for the birth you want no matter what that looks like.  [01:00:00] If you're enjoying this podcast that I need your help to spread the word if you know anyone who is pregnant is trying to become pregnant or just loves a good birth story if you could send them to iTunes or Stitcher.

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